We have all heard tales of long lines to see the "Mona Lisa" at the Louvre in Paris or the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. We've read stories of cities like Barcelona and Venice wanting to cap tourism as they become overwhelmed with out-of-towners. But rarely do we hear about the small towns that make up Europe — the places were people live, work and play, but which do not see an influx of travelers.
It's here where you truly get a sense of Europe and the varying cultures of its multiple nations. Without hordes of tourists, locals devote time to the people who have made an effort to visit their towns. And though small, these towns and villages — with fewer than 15,000 residents — aren't short on attractions, stunning landscapes, or delicious restaurants and cafes.
At these best-of-the-best European small towns, ranked from most to least populated, fall in love with storybook settings sans the crowds.